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Foreign Minster Paet: Women Experience Disproportionately Greater Suffering in Conflict Situations

16.11.2010

No. 352-E

At the international conference “Women, Peace and Security – the Afghan View” in Tallinn today, Foreign Minister Paet emphasised that significantly improving the rights and security of women is a priority of Estonia’s foreign policy, development co-operation, and human rights activities.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that that the key to resolving conflicts and crises and ensuring security is the protection of civilians, especially women. “As a member of the UN, NATO, European Union, and OSCE, Estonia participates actively in ensuring international peace and security. We contribute to international military and civil missions in countries where resolving conflicts and establishing peace are directly tied to the implementation of UN resolution 1325, and we also take the gender aspect into consideration in planning our own activities,” the foreign minister said.

As an example, Paet mentioned Estonia’s development co-operation activities helping Afghan women in the health care and education sectors. “We have supported the provincial hospital in Helmand Province by supplying essential medical equipment, trained midwives, and shared first aid knowledge with women in the province,” Foreign Minister Paet asserted, emphasising that an Estonian health care expert is still working to co-ordinate health care activities in the UK-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah. “Afghan women play a very important role in shaping the future of the nation and in the gradual transition of security responsibilities to the Afghan forces. The rights of women and girls must not be forgotten during this process,” Paet stated.

Foreign Minister Paet said that the situation of women in Afghanistan has improved over the past few years in comparison with what it was. “Afghan women have the right to vote and be candidates in parliamentary elections, and more girls have the opportunity to go to school and get an education,” Foreign Minister Paet said as an example. “Afghan women and women’s organisations are also more and more active when it comes to matters of peace and security,” he added.

“In a conflict, one party can always claim victory, but building peace must involve everybody: the weak and the powerful, the victors and the vanquished, men and women, young and old. Particularly, there is a need to ensure the engagement of women in all stages of a peace process,” said Foreign Minister Paet, quoting Martti Ahtisaari.
The international conference “Women, Peace and Security – the Afghan View”, organised in co-operation by the Foreign Ministry and the Estonian Atlantic Treaty Association (EATA) is focused on how to better take into consideration the role and contribution of women in international conflict resolution and in building up a post-conflict society. The conference has brought together the experiences of the EU, NATO, and the UN.

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